FIRST CONTACTS WITH RUSINS IN RUMANIA
Translated by John Gera from an article in "Narodny Novinky" Vol. 111. No. 244. Page 1.
Reprinted from Trembita - Volume 5, Number 5 - the official publication of the Rusin Association with permission
This article is copyright © 1993 Narodny Novinky 1993,1994,1995,1996 Trembita. Unauthorized use or duplication without permission is strictly forbidden
Maybe the most important result from the first contacts with Rusins beyond the borders of our Republic is the Rusins in this or that post-Community Europe are being established by the A. Duchnovich Theater in Presov. Thanks are due to this touring Rusin Cultural group. They have made contacts with Rusins in Rumania, who live in the Districts of Maramoros and Banat. The representative of the Rumanian Rusins, Madame Jaroslava Kolotilo, was invited to the Second World Congress of Rusins that has been in the Polish city of Krynica. There we were able to ask her a few questions conceming the Rusins in Rumania.
Question: Madame Kolotilo - you worked for the Ministry of Culture, in the Bureau of Ethnic Nationalities. Although you got the job after the Fall of the Dictator Causescu, can you tell us what was the cultural life of the ethnic groups, specifically that of the Rusins?
Response: To this question I can reply with one word - Nothing." Theoretically it was admitted that there were in Rumania various national minorities, and, at the end, that they had their own organizations. But these were fantasies. The state did not support them and they were controlled by people whose primary function was to see to it that there was only one nationality in Rumania-Rumanian. Such political activity as was applied to all minorities, nationalities, even the Ukrainian nationality, because the Rusins were unknown of. With the demise of Dictator Causescu we lost much. You, in Slovakia, are fortunate people, because you have regained much of your culture. Our people had only their own dialect. which had been passed on from generation to generation. They were not able to keep their old Slavonic Liturgy in their church. The Liturgy is conducted in Rumanian. Only Christmas and Easter are celebrated according to the old calendar. In the District ofTulha, for instance, the ethnic dances have died. Not even the oldest generation can remember what their ancestors used to wear. For you, until the revolution, there were no Rusins. Only Ukrainians. But for us it was different.
Question: From what you say, Madame Kolotilo, that in Rumania there is not the question whether they are Rusins or Ukrainians, but rather the identification as a national minority. Thus it would be interesting to know how our people feel, and how did they register in the most recent listings? Was there a listing of the Rusin nationality?
Response: First of all, I must say that in Rumania there are 350-400 thousand Rusins who live mainly in the Districts of Maramoros, Banat, Sighet, Tulchy and Bukovina. On the Registers. there were 70 thousand people who claimed to be Rusins. And how do these people feel, and call themselves? They say. "We are Rusin People."
Question: And how does the present Rumanian govemment treat national minorities? Have the Rusins in Rumania formed any organizations for the protection of their rights and to rejuvenate their cultural lives?
Response: Following the revolution, the Organization of Ukrainians in Rumania began to revive their cultural life, as well as the Rusins. There were published two periodicals-the newspaper Free World (Vil'ne Slovo) and the literary magazine-Our World, which are printed in Ukrainian, and people do not understand them very well. But I believe that, when the codification of the basic Rusin language is completed, then in Rumania there will be published materials in Rusin, and the Rusin language will be introduced into the grade schools. Ihe govemment does not concern itself negatively with such problems, because Rumania wishes to join the European Union. The govemment leaders wish to demonstrate to the world that Rumania is a democracy. And that the nationality question, in Rumania, is being resolved. While the Organization of Ukrainians in Rumania does not get regular donations, it must be said that the Ministry of Culture does give one-time donations for certain activities. For example. I recently organized an activity for the Society of St. George to which I invited our priest. He conducted the Holy Liturgy in Old Slavonic, followed by singer of the Choir from Maramoros. This whole activity was financed by the Ministry of Culture.
Question: You mentioned the Maramoros Choir. Are there many Folklorist groups in Rumania and where?
Response: We have very few such groups, and these are mostly non-professional. But it must be said that, for example, the national Rusin dances have just about disappeared in Rumania. One Folklorist group in Maramoros, there are two Choirs in Banat and one in Sighet. In true folklore we have much to do because folklore is one of the most important projects in the process of identifying of this and other people.
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